Bible Lands Summer 2014

This summer we mark the centenary of the outbreak of the war which led to the break-up of the Ottoman Empire into the nation states of today. This process took little account of the varied communities of the region, often splitting them across unnatural frontiers made by victorious western nations. Outside powers often exacerbate conflict and division in the region. In these situations initiatives to build bridges across communities, however small they may be is part of the Christian calling for reconciliation and building community. In this issue of Bible Lands we have a number of articles about such initiatives. Our Editor, Canon Tim Biles, reports on discussions at a residential conference for Muslim and Christian religious leaders at St George’s College, Jerusalem (pages 12-13). And Bishop Mouneer writes of similar initiatives in Egypt (page 19). We do not often hear about Iran, where life for local Persian-speaking Christian communities is not easy, although tolerance for recognised minority ethnic Assyrian and Armenian Churches is greater. But such encounters as that which Clare Amos describes in her report (page 20) on the latest in a series of dialogues with the Tehran-based Centre for Interreligious Dialogue are public reminders of the importance of representatives of faith communities meeting and engaging in discussion. Alongside these formal occasions for meeting, the Dioceses of Jerusalem and of Egypt, in particular, are notable for their efforts to engage with the needs of the wider communities through their various educational, social, and medical institutions and we continue to focus on them in this issue.

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World Council of Churches visit Iran

Clare Amos, the WCC executive for inter faith Dialogue, reports on the visit to Iran by an international group of Christians sponsored by the World Council of Churches.

View from the Tower of St. George’s

John Henson reflects on his six months volunteering at St. George’s Cathedral Jerusalem as cathedral sacristan whilst his wife worked as PA for the Dean